Many restaurants that have made their name across the globe are slowly continuing their journey across the pond to London, extending out the large scale, diverse restaurant scene. One of the latest arrivals is the world-famous Taiwanese dim sum restaurant, Din Tai Fung.
When the restaurant first opened in Covent Garden, locals and tourists were waiting a few hours to get their lips around Din Tai Fung’s delicate dim sum. As the months have passed, the hype has rapidly decreased, allowing you to get a table within 20-25 minutes putting your name down – no queuing required.
I decided to visit this hyped up, “Instagrammable” restaurant without any expectations. I thought it might be a small venue, with quick turnaround times and “fast-food”. It is the first time I have ever visited a restaurant blindly; not checking the menu, looking at photos of the interiors or reading in-depth reviews on others experiences. I was either in for a treat or a real shock…
Stepping in, the venue is a lot larger than you think judging by the exterior with the capacity for 250 covers at a time. There is a lovely gold theme throughout the restaurant that gives a warm, inviting feel to the venue. The colour theme runs through to the long bar area, with seating, which makes it the perfect spot to have an aperitif while you are waiting for your table.
You all know I can’t say no to an ice-cold glass of Perrier Jouët, especially after a long day at work. Neither can my colleagues.
While we were sipping away, we took advantage of the glass-kitchen near the bar, where you could watch all the Din Tai Fung dim sum experts at work, rapidly putting together baskets of delectable looking morsels.
There are so many hands on deck, which enables the quick turn around from placing your order for your food to reach your table, especially for such a large and busy restaurant.
It wasn’t long before we were seated at our table, which made for some very happy diners, as we were all ready to try the famous xiao long bao soup dumplings.
As I previously mentioned, I came not knowing what was on the menu. On first glance, we all noticed there was a lot of pork on the menu, and not only in terms of the meat itself, but it also extended out to pork gelatin, broth and other pork products. As a result, automatically discarding a lot of dishes off the menu. One of my colleagues who dined with us is vegetarian too, and it was a shame there were very limited vegetarian choices on the menu. And, by limited, I mean two. However, we were too hungry to get up and leave at this point and agreed to give it a try.
We started off with a light, tangy salad as an appetizer, and before we knew it, every single we ordered came out one by one. Not even allowing us to have a second mouthful before our whole table was covered in different dishes, which was rather overwhelming. We looked past this service issue, and carried on, eager to discover what the food was like and to discover if it was worth the hype after all.
We ordered a couple of rice dishes, one being egg fried rice and a seperate steamed rice, allowing my colleague to eat something that was vegetarian.
Moving on into the dumplings, we ordered an array of different dumplings, including the sour gourd dumplings, which had a crunchy texture inside, complete with a soft outer shell. It was pleasant and not overly bitter as you would normally expect.
We also enjoyed some vegetable mushroom dumplings, which were a little dry but had good flavour.
The chicken xiao long bao soup dumplings were delicious but could have done with a little extra soup. As I have known them to be completely full of soup, where they explode the minute they hit your mouth. However, these dumplings were only half full – a little unsatisying if you ask me.
The soft buns were delicious. Luckily they came in both chicken and mushroom with vegetables variations, allowing the whole table to enjoy the soft, fluffy buns.
My colleagues indulged in various other pork-based dumplings, including the prawn and pork dumplings, the pork wontons emersed in chilli oil and various noodle dishes, with positive feedback. Perhaps the pork dishes are a Din Tai Fung delicacy? Who knows.
When we finished our meal, we all agreed to look at the dessert menu in hope there was something we could all eat. To our dismay, even the majority of the desserts contained pork. By this point, we were all a little bit fed up of the limitations the pork products provided during our dining experience and settled on a creamy, mango pudding, calling it a day.
I have to admit, the whole experience wasn’t up to scratch. The service could have been better, especially as our waiter found it funny that we had an issue with pork being in all the dishes. Also, the food needs some serious fine-tuning, considering it is a world-renowned restaurant and this is their English flagship. With the improvements, the addition of extra dishes that are suited to other dietary requirements would be a major plus. Especially as they already do in their other restaurants around the world. It has potential, but they need to fix it quickly before the word spreads too far. Especially as us foodies love to talk about our experiences.
Have you visited Din Tai Fung?
Until next time…